It was year 2000, I was doing my Engineering away from home. This session was stressful; I had never failed in any academic exam until that year. I failed in one subject of my engineering. The result was about 5% for that subject for our batch – across the university. There were various discussions on the results in University, colleges and among students. Some toppers or top 10% student have also failed in the exam. Disclaimer: I was not a topper during Engineering. Once, professor who taught, set paper and evaluated the subject had openly said in classroom – “I had passed few students because I knew their parents!” It was a shock to many.
The above mentioned was kind of first of my academic failure. Though one was inability to make it to IIT, however it was mixed feeling that time, as I had made it to State Pre-Engineering test (with rank). There are shocks and failures that teach you biggest lessons in life than any success.
Single word sentence that changed me
With the grievance, I went and spoke with a professor of our department. He was also aware about the whole incident of this particular subject, exam, teacher and batch. I was immature, outspoken and outraged. When you are away from home, no family support and just crossing your teens, you may become very aggressive or meek. The young age also gives you extra bit of adrenaline. With full of anger, I spoke with him– “<a lot of story>. Does the institute want me to ask my parents to come and network with professors? They are also teachers; they too have responsibility of teaching students to make their future. I never failed, had been a bright student academically, who is responsible for this result? How can I secure only 22 marks when my mathematical equation based solution worth 20 marks was correct? Who is responsible for this?” I was venting out like anything!
He heard me carefully, looked at me patiently, and responded – “Situations!” This one word sentence I don’t know how, made an immense impact on me. Probably, the reason was not that one sentence alone, it was the countenance, the manner, care and concern. It was said with compassion that made the difference. That one word resonated with me for a long time. Perhaps, it is difficult to understand what I am saying, however this interaction left a mark on me.
Lesson for life
We get carried away by results, we many a times, consider ourselves something probably we are not. In this particular case – I thought of myself as a failure, though I was not. There were circumstances where someone fail, that does not prove that the person is a failure. It is like seeing a steam of water flowing. You be an observer, water keeps on flowing, as Lao Tzu said – “…grass grows by itself.” Our life situations are like this, most of the times we get carried away, the way I was. We get wet in the stream of water. However, when we become an observer, our perspective and paradigm changes for many things.
Our problem is that we get carried away by people, situations, results and many things around us. These things make us vulnerable. When we become an observer life changes multifold. My professor’s answer “situation” somehow changed my paradigm of thinking. It was difficult to understand what has changed within at that time, now when I look back I realized that one answer changed me and involuntarily made me an observer, that time I had not practiced any meditation either, that one word somehow moved me towards spirituality.
I did not apply for revaluation; I had lost faith in the examination system – where a teacher wanted my parents to network, rather than me study or teacher doing his duty diligently. Next semester I passed the subject, which had to happen anyway. The biggest positive for me was I became mindful, spiritual and aware.